FIG’s at Westminster

by ercol on November 29, 2013

WestminsterThat’s the Furniture Industry Group who met at the Palace of Westminster this week.  Ercol’s MD, Nick Garratt attended the annual general meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group at the House of Commons. The group is chaired by Stephen McPartland, Conservative Minister of Parliament for Stevenage who is the ‘voice’ of the industry in the House of Commons.  APPFIG  is the route for the furniture industry to lobby the government on industry issues.  The meeting was attended by some 30 senior members of the industry with a broad mixture of manufacturers, agents, trade bodies and suppliers in attendance.

Paul von der Heyde, Chairman of the British Furniture Confederation, enlightened the audience with some facts to emphasise the importance of the industry and many were surprised to hear that the furniture industry employs some 90,000 people in manufacturing and has an ex-works value of £8 billion.  Jackie Bazeley, Managing Director of the British Furniture Manufacturers Association (BFM) reported encouraging news that in a recent industry poll, companies were more optimistic about the future than at any time in the past 10 years.

Nick Garratt was in attendance as a director of the BFM and also part of a panel whoP1070490 answered questions from the audience in a lively debate about industry success stories and challenges.  Ercol has been successful in exporting to a number of overseas markets and has recently won business in China, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore to boost its already established overseas business in Japan and Europe.

Highlight of the night was a presentation by Guy Warrington, Director for English regions of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).  UKTI works with UK-based businesses to ensure their success in international markets, and encourage the best overseas companies to look to the UK as their global partner of choice.  Guy explained that furnishings forms part of the creative sector for UKTI.  There is increasing interest in the UK creative sector particularly from emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East and countries like Russia and Brazil, based on Britain’s reputation as a leader in creative industries.

Ercol also welcomes this week’s news that the government is forming a new creative sector taskforce to boost trade.  UKTI will support the taskforce of the UK’s top 100 creative sector small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to win £500 million worth of high value overseas contracts in the next three years. The initiative is part of a government plan to get 100,000 more UK businesses exporting.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“The growing appetite for British design offers many opportunities for innovative firms of all sizes to boost their overseas trade and attract new investment. Collectively the creative industries already generate more than £36 billion a year for the UK economy – £70,000 every minute – and employ 1.5 million people’.

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